Swedish massage is a great introductory massage for many reasons, number one being that it involves firm, yet gentle strokes. You are placed on a flat elevated massage table with a cutout for your face. Beginning on your stomach, the massage therapist will begin long, firm brush-like strokes along your back and eventually over your shoulders, arms, then down to lower back and legs. Halfway through the appointment you will be asked to turn over, finishing the second half face up for the treatment of your upper shoulders, arms and fronts of legs. Massage therapists usually use either the flat palm or heel of their hand or a grouping of fingertips to deliver pressure to tight spots and also help loosen and lengthen muscles. Unlike strictly pressure-point styles of massage like Shiatsu or stretching techniques such as Thai massage where a masseuse manipulates you while on the floor, Swedish massage is designed specifically to enhance circulation and blood flow to the large muscle groups.
Fans of Swedish massage swear by its overall health benefits and, in fact, several studies have looked at the technique's benefits for issues other than just stiffness or muscle aches and pains. Over the past few decades, a variety of studies have linked Swedish massage to a number of benefits, such as reduction in knee arthritis, easing the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, lowering blood pressure, boosting immune system function, reducing headaches and helping to mitigate the symptoms of fibromyalgia.